Ward 13 – Carrie Kurutz Responses
Cleveland City Council Candidate Questionnaire
Candidate Name: Carrie Kurutz
Council Ward 3 Candidate
Q. What roles do you think city council can play in making cities safe, accessible and friendly for biking?
A. One-way protected cycle tracks that use a variety of methods for physical protection from passing traffic have been a priority of mine since I first moved to Ward 3 (23 years ago) and often biked from our home on Jay Avenue to North Royalton to get to my warehouse for my pioneering environmental business. A year later, I moved Ecomart Recycled Papers to the Halle Bldg. downtown, and continued to bike/walk to work when often it seemed like I was the only one besides couriers biking around town. I ride a bike throughout our City, to the lake and through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Cleveland is far behind implementing one-way protected bicycle tracks. The ordinance is fine, but so far it’s window dressing. I want the tracks implemented to protect our bikers. I pledge to be the best advocate for the construction of necessary urban tools that people can enjoy throughout their lives, safely. All else is window dressing. It needs to be implemented not just look good on paper. I look forward to biking to City Council meetings and City Hall, or to meet with constituents throughout Ward 3, as your next City Council elected representative. I believe in leadership by example. I also support my neighborhood bicycle business.
Q. Funding for bikeways and other bicycle improvements and programs in Cleveland is currently derived from a mix of local, regional, and federal grants. Do you support an increase in dedicated funds in the City of Cleveland capital budget to install a safe, connected network of bike facilities?
Q. Do you have ideas for securing other funding for biking projects in Cleveland?
A. As a former journalist in Washington, D.C. covering Congress for Roll Call, I know the value of using our existing local, state and federal resources to help our City. I will hold hearings at City Council with our federal agencies to make sure that we are ahead of the curve, not playing catch up when it comes to funding opportunities and bring you into the loop quickly to help with planning. For example, we should not be scrambling after the fact to know the funding schedules (federal). The CDBG monies deadline is the end of January. This is flexible monies that can be used for protected bike tracks. Joe Cimperman has never held a public meeting about CBDG monies ($400,000 per year) even though he is mandated by law to ask our Community how you want to spend the money. Why not protected bike tracks? Now the HUD application is going to be available in December and the deadline is the end of January. You should be involved and notified and I am doing that through this questionnaire since it’s sometimes more difficult for challengers to meet with new constituents. I promise to keep you apprised of funding opportunities, and introduce our community to members of Congress on both sides of the aisle who can help us implement the goals of the receiving dedicated funds for protected bike tracks and other creative options. In addition, I will work closely with the departments at City Hall to ensure that these programs are put into place, not stay in the books. In addition, it’s important for our Community to know that our streets need catch basins cleaned at least twice a year to reduce flooding. That affects our ability to bike around our City safely. Information is not easily found when searching for who to contact at City Hall. I will make that much easier for everyone. It’s under Water Pollution Control, which I know a lot about because I was an editor for the Journal of Water Pollution Control in Washington, D.C. It should be under Street Flooding and Catch Basins. My idea as your next elected official is to help the public quickly with access to government and get the flooding of our streets under control. It doesn’t cost billions, just a Councilperson who cares about our Ward. I care about my Ward and the people in our Community. Ward 3 is the most diverse Ward in the City. People from all different backgrounds and all ages bike and would benefit from having a candidate who really cares about their safety. It’s the number one priority of my campaign because it’s the number one priority of our Community.
Q. In January 2012 the City of Cleveland’s Complete and Green Streets Ordinance went into effect. The ordinance requires implementation of sustainable policies and guidelines in all construction projects within the public right of way. What will you do to ensure that the city incorporates Complete and Green Streets policies and practices into road projects within your ward? How will you measure success?
A. Again, the ordinance is window dressing. Painting a line on a street with an arrow protects neither the biker and actually leaves the biker vulnerable in my opinion. That’s what I see in the Ward and aim to change when I am elected in two weeks on Nov. 5! I want protected bike tracks that are constructed! What are we waiting for? It’s not money. It doesn’t take billions; just planning and commitment. It’s about having a Council person push the agenda. Look at the Opportunity Corrdidor – $300,000 million and not one protected bike track that I know of? Instead, they want to put up a highway through the city and 14 foot walls? What’s that about? Can’t we use the money better? I will bike to City Council with you so that we publicly and together ask for sustainable practices to be put in place, not just remain on paper and an ordinance now more than a year old while streets are being repaved because of an election year and none of them have protected bike tracks. Once I am elected, at least you will know that I am the only member of City Council who has a strong environmental ethic and has been a pioneering environmental small business person and uses a bicycle for recreation as well as transportation throughout my Ward. I am your strongest advocate and humbly ask for your vote on Nov. 5.
Q. In what ways can enhanced bicycling facilities and opportunities benefit your ward and the city as a whole? Are there any specific projects that you’d like to see accomplished?
A. First of all, people should always have safe, alternative and non-fossil fuel methods of getting to work or for recreation. Let’s start with the basics. Our City including Ward 3 is the perfect Ward to implement bicycling facilities and open up opportunities that benefit our Ward and are an example to other cities around the country. For example, I was not in favor of the skywalk and thought that the bicycle hub was far greater benefit to our Ward with long-term value for our downtown neighborhood and all of our City residents who bike downtown all the time to get to the main library or work, etc. If I were in City Council, that skywalk would not have passed my office. My opponent clearly opted for a campaign contribution over the wishes of his constituents, and many young professionals committed to making Cleveland their home and who’s ideas should be heard and are critical for the growth of our City. The current Councilman is not a biker, by the way, and wouldn’t even meet with them. That’s wrong. It’s a lost opportunity.
Q. Cities across the United States are installing protected bicycle lanes (a.k.a. cycletracks) to create a stress-free biking environment and to encourage “interested but concerned” people to ride a bike. Do you support the installation of bike infrastructure like buffered bike lanes, protected bike lanes, and bike boxes on Cleveland streets? YES/NO
A. Yes, let’s take this thought globally to demonstrate how critical it is to create stress-free biking environments, and this benefits people all over the world. I have lived in Africa many times. For CWRU, I was a Field Officer to help infectious disease research (HIV/AIDS, malaria, etc.). Throughout my life, I have known East Africans when few could afford a bike. They walked. Then things began to change over the decades. Now more Kenyans bike. They use bicycles to transport product. But when roads are built, they have no protection. That’s wrong. It’s not about the money. It doesn’t cost that much more to add stress-free biking environments whether it’s Cleveland or the long road from Nairobi to Mombasa. I want to help people by giving the tools they need to do their jobs in addition to recreation opportunities. A better biking City, with stress-free biking environments, is something that I fundamentally believe in and will help make happen everyday that I serve in City Council for Ward 3. But you have to help me to get elected even if you worked with the former Councilman on legislation. That legislation is still just a piece of paper. Not enough has been implemented and you know that better than anyone.
Q. Are you in favor of Bike Boxes (i.e. former shipping containers converted to bike parking) being placed in a parking lane on city streets?
A. Yes, I am in favor of practical outcomes that help us implement and maintain stress-free biking environments.
Q. In just about every neighborhood throughout the city, one of the top concerns is drivers driving too fast, aggressively, and not safely sharing the road with people on bikes. What ideas do you have to calm traffic and make our neighborhoods safer and more comfortable in which to ride a bike? Feel free to talk about particular problem spots in your ward.
A. I will hold public meetings for both our bikers and those who are new to stress-free bike tracks and share information with everyone in terms of what this is all about. I am just the person to help bridge that communication. Stress-free bike tracks are a benefit to both drivers who sometimes are nervous when they see bikers on streets as well as bikers. We can have both, a clam driving experience for all generations and safety for our bikers.
Q. According to the 2012 Census almost 28% of Clevelanders do not have access to a car, how would you go about re-examining road projects to take into account the transportation needs of all city residents, improve safety, and enhance the livability of Cleveland neighborhoods?
A. Let’s take Ohio City, as an example. According to 2010 Census, poverty has increased in Ohio City. If poverty is increasing, what does that mean about the ability to buy a bicycle? We can do test pilots like bike share. If a University can do something like that, why can’t we offer it to our Community. We can get the bikes donated at first, then expand the program once people become used to the idea no different than borrowing a book or DVD at the library and returning it. Let’s enhance the livability of Cleveland for everyone. Some of these bike sharing opportunities should be at Tremont Pointe, Lakeview Estates and a bicycle for four at Riverview Towers or provide employment for someone who can bike the residents and seniors downtown or a day shopping.
Q. What do you think is the number one risk to people on bikes both in your ward and the city as a whole? What have you done/will you do as an elected official to remedy it?
A. The number one risk to people on bikes in Ward 3 and the city as a whole is the fact that we do not have any stress-free biking lanes that truly protect our bikers and give drivers confidence to know that real barriers exists for the safety of everyone. I will make this a priority.
See responses from all candidates at BikeCleveland.org/I-bike-I-vote